George Q. Cannon and seeing the Savior

George Q. Cannon and seeing the Savior August 12, 2017


GQC 1870-1880 LoC
George Q. Cannon, somewhere 1870-1880
(Public Domain Image)


First of all, though:  My wife and I went out to dinner last night with our dear friend Louis Midgley, one of my very favorite people.  Tonight, with colleagues from my department and elsewhere at BYU, we’ll participate in a retirement dinner for another one of them.  Dilworth Parkinson has been a friend, a mentor, and a colleague for most of my life.  This is the end of an era for BYU’s Arabic program, an era that has seen it emerge from essentially nothing to one of the best undergraduate Arabic programs in the United States.  And a very great proportion of the credit for that goes to Dil.




I would like to call your attention to the nicely-illustrated text of Neil Rappleye’s presentation at the 2017 FairMormon conference, which was held in Provo’s Utah Valley Convention Center a little more than a week ago:


“‘Put Away Childish Things’: Learning to Read the Book of Mormon with Mature Historical Understanding”


I thought it a very good presentation.




And here’s another excerpt from an unpublished project to which I very much need to return:


George Q. Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency to Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow, claimed on several occasions to have seen Christ and to have conversed with him face to face.  Cannon was a man of great integrity and remarkable ability who made a positive impression on people within and beyond the Church. He served as a newspaper editor, a publisher, a writer, and a long-time Utah Territorial delegate to the United States Congress, besides being one of the pivotal figures in the establishment of the Church in Hawaii and directing its efforts in Europe.[1]


Referring to remarks he had made to an assembly of young people, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, in 1889, Cannon wrote in his journal that “I testified that the Lord Jesus lived, for I had seen Him and heard His voice, and I had heard the voice of the spirit, speaking to me as one man speaketh to another.”[2]


Cannon made similar remarks during a meeting on 20 April 1893 in the newly dedicated Salt Lake Temple.  B. H. Roberts, who was there, recorded in his journal that Cannon testified that he knew Jesus was the Christ, that “he had seen and conversed with Christ as a man talks with his friend.”[3]  Marriner Wood Merrill, also in attendance, heard precisely the same language, quoting Cannon as saying that he “had seen and conversed with [Christ] as a man talks with his friend.” The “feelings of all were subdued” by this testimony, Merrill noted.[4]  Francis Asbury Hammond, using his own rough-hewn language rather than that of the articulate Cannon, reports him as testifing, “I have been greatly favored of the Lord. My mind has been rapt in vision and have saw the beauties and Glory of God. I have saw and conversed with the Savior face to face.”[5]


On 6 October 1896, Cannon made his point expressly, in print:  “I know that God lives. I know that Jesus lives; for I have seen Him. I know that this is the Church of God, and that it is founded on Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. I testify to you of these things as one that knows — as one of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[6]


In 1898, Joseph Dean attended a meeting in the Salt Lake Temple, of which he recorded that

“I never felt a more heavenly influence in my life, especially the last hour. We did not get away until 12:30. The last hour our hearts were so melted that the most of us were sobbing and weeping for joy. Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon began to speak at 11:30. He was saying or began to say that he knew that Jesus was the Christ, for he had seen his face and heard his voice. His emotions here overpowered him, and he had to stand and say nothing for a few moments until he could control himself. He also testified that he knew that God lived for he had seen his face and heard his voice. He also knew that the Holy Ghost was a living being for he heard his voice.”[7]


After George Q. Cannon’s death in the spring of 1901, his protégé and confidante George Reynolds wrote a eulogy in which, among other things, he said,

“President Cannon in intellectual gifts was richly endowed beyond the great majority of his fellows. In faith, few were his equals. As a servant of the Most High, he was among that favored few who saw the face of the Lord while in the flesh and heard the Divine voice, and yet remained in mortality.”[8]


[1] See Davis Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999). The English novelist Charles Dickens was among those favorably impressed by George Q. Cannon. See Dickens’s account of his visit to a Mormon emigrant ship in London, published in The Uncommercial Traveller {1860], in which the unnamed “Mormon agent” interviewed can be positively identified as George Q. Cannon. Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller and Reprinted Pieces (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958), 220-232.

[2] GQCJ, 4 November 1889. Also Joseph J. Cannon notes, GQCA. Cited in Bitton, GQC, 415; compare 523 n. 35.

[3] Madsen, Defender of the Faith, 211, citing “a journal of B. H. Roberts” for 20 April 1893. Roberts, at the time, was one of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and about 36 years of age.

[4] Holzapfel, Every Stone a Sermon, 77, citing Marriner Wood Merrill journal for 20 April 1893 [LDS Church Archives]. Marriner Wood Merrill was, at the time, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and about 58 years old. (The entry in the Church Almanac seems to contain an error, so this is not certain.)

[5] Stuy, Collected Discourses, 3:285, citing Francis Asbury Hammond journal for 20 April 1893. Hammond had been a missionary companion of GQC in Hawaii in the first half of the 1850s.

[6] Newquist, Gospel Truth, 106, citing DW [Deseret Weekly] 53:610 (for 6 October 1896).

[7] Joseph H. Dean journal, 3 April 1898, LDS Church Archives. See Bitton, GQC, 415. At the same meeting, Elder John Henry Smith proclaimed that he, too, had seen and heard Jesus Christ. See Bitton, GQC, 523 n. 34.

[8] Van Orden, Prisoner for Conscience’ Sake, 189, citing Juvenile Instructor 36 (1 May 1901): 274. “This last revelation,” Van Orden comments, “may have been confided by Cannon to his close friend Reynolds.” Reynolds, at the time, was one of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and about 59 years old. He had been closely associated with George Q. Cannon since 1861, when Cannon served in the British Mission.



"When I apologize, I don't send a representative."

Regarding President Nelson’s imminent speech to ..."
"For someone who failed to note that Dr. Peterson linked to the very article that ..."

Regarding President Nelson’s imminent speech to ..."
"In, "The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave Community Behind," Rajan, an economist ..."

Regarding President Nelson’s imminent speech to ..."
"Assuming for a moment that their is a God and he is omniscient, your suggestion ..."

Regarding President Nelson’s imminent speech to ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment